Focusing on family doctor

Australian Medical Association/AusMed

From July 21, the AMA will embark on a week of accelerated activities to highlight the importance of the family doctor and the great work of general practitioners.

This year’s Family Doctor Week runs between July 21 and 27, with the theme of Your family doctor and You: partnering for health.

AMA President Dr Tony Bartone will use his televised address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, July 24 to outline what is needed from the Government and policymakers to ensure general practice is strengthened and that Australia has an affordable and accessible health system for all into the decades ahead.

His address is titled: Enough talking – time for action on long-term health policy vision.

At the AMA National Conference in May, Health Minister Greg Hunt committed to working with the AMA on a 10-year plan for primary health care and general practice. This was in direct response to pressure from the AMA, and Dr Bartone is pushing for the plan to develop a sustainable long-term funding model for general practice.

“One that will better support us to provide targeted pro-active preventive care, make better use of technology and our healthcare teams to ensure patients can access the care they need when they need it,” he said.

“One that will deliver patients a better experience on their healthcare journey, where they are engaged in their care, where their care is integrated and well-coordinated, and their risks for poor health and preventable hospitalisations are minimised.”

Dr Bartone said that as a GP for more than 30 years, he knows both the satisfaction of providing comprehensive patient care, and the frustration of the value of that service being undermined by a fragmented system.

“As President of the AMA I have undertaken to ensure the GP voice is heard, to secure a significant investment in general practice, to improve access to health care across the board and to enhance the value of general practice as a career of choice,” he said.

Over the past year, the AMA has secured more than $1 billion in extra government funding to be rolled out over the coming years to support general practice – including for the new Practice Incentive Program Quality Incentive, retention of the Aged Care Access Incentive, more flexible access to GP care for patients over 70, and bringing forward the lifting of the Medicare freeze on remaining GP MBS items.

“There is much more to do to ensure general practice is supported to provide quality outcomes-based care, now and in the years ahead, regardless of their location,” Dr Bartone said.

“The AMA wants to see GPs supported when they need to spend more time with their patients, to provide telehealth services to their usual patients and to provide affordable effective care for hard to heal wounds.”

In this edition of Australian Medicine there are short interviews with family doctors from around Australia, highlighting the variety of their work and the joy they receive from providing quality primary health care.

/AMA/AusMed News. View in full here.